SmileDirectClub and byte have a lot in common. Both clear aligner services offer at-home teeth straightening, and both are significantly more affordable than braces or Invisalign. But when you dig a bit deeper, there are actually some major differences between these companies’ service offerings that aren’t so apparent on the surface.
We’re here to help you decipher these differences and hone in on the features that are most important to you. In this comparison review, we’ll take you on an in-depth tour of SmileDirectClub and byte, and provide all the information you need to choose the best home teeth aligner for you.
Table of Contents
Overview & Recommendation: Byte Wins
Two Great Companies, but byte Gets Our Vote.
Both SmileDirectClub & byte offer huge savings and convenience, but in our opinion, byte wins the race. Why? Two reasons:
- Industry-Fastest Treatment Time: This is where byte truly shines, separating themselves from not just SmileDirectClub, but the entire clear aligner industry. Their proprietary HyperByte device, which uses gentle vibrations to shift teeth more easily, gives byte an average treatment time of 3 months (compared to SmileDirectClub’s 6-month average). Dentists often charge upwards of $1,000 for similar devices, but byte includes it for free in your aligner bundle.
- Exceptional Customer Support: byte assigns each customer a personal advisor, who checks in to answer questions and concerns throughout the treatment process. Plus, once you’re done with treatment, your smile is insured by their byte-for-life guarantee. That means if your teeth ever shift after treatment, even years down the line, they’ll realign your smile free of charge.
Is byte Right for You?
Out of all the clear aligners we’ve reviewed, byte is the #1 option we feel most comfortable recommending not only to our readers, but also to our family and friends. They scored 4.7/5 overall based on our 5 review criteria (effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support) — a higher rating than any other provider.
Provided you are a good candidate for at-home aligners, byte and SmileDirectClub both have a good track record for effectiveness. But byte goes above and beyond in this category by utilizing innovative technologies to provide a more effective product and process.
- Unclear who they partner with for manufacturing
- HyperByte technology decreases the average treatment time to 3 months
- Not as experienced, having been founded in 2018
- Cuts aligners straight across the top for extra power
- Once partnered with Align Technology to manufacture aligners, but now produces their aligners in-house
- Average treatment time is 6 months
- Has extensive experience and brand power
- Also uses a straight cut for extra aligner power
SmileDirectClub once partnered with Align Tech (the creators of Invisalign) to manufacture their clear aligners. We were huge fans of this partnership, as Align Tech has long been known for producing top-quality, highly-effective aligners. These days, however, SmileDirectClub produces most of its aligners in-house. This introduces a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to the level of quality and effectiveness you can expect when you order from SmileDirectClub.
byte does not explicitly share their manufacturing partnership, but they clearly communicate that their aligners are made of safe, BPA-free plastic. While we assume that they work with a reputable producer, at this point we can’t be 100% sure.
SmileDirectClub has been in the home aligner game longer, there’s no doubt about that. But over the past few years, they haven’t introduced any game-changing technology or modifications. As an established, experienced company, they’ve simply relied on their track record, reputation, and results, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But byte, an upstart in the field, has shown unrivaled ambition by developing and implementing technologies that drastically impact their treatment’s effectiveness. The HyperByte vibration device is completely unique to byte treatment, shortening the overall treatment timeline like no other provider does. Plus, unlike other companies, byte uses a special software called Smile Science to evaluate your entire facial structure when designing your treatment plan. This allows their dentists to craft a smile that fits your features perfectly.
Both companies make aligners that cover the gums, which can make them more effective. Not all home aligners cover the gums, but those that do are able to induce more powerful teeth movements. These aligners use the gums as a point of leverage to pivot and push the teeth into alignment. Home clear aligners that are trimmed to follow the gumline are less powerful than those that cover the gums like SmileDirectClub and byte.
One of the first things many adults check when considering home aligner treatment is their budget. Which provider offers lower prices? Overall, byte and SmileDirectClub are almost identical in terms of affordability. They both offer the same initial price and similar payment plans. In fact, they really only vary when it comes to additional costs.
- $1,895 sticker price (or $2,295 for byte-At-Night)
- Includes aftercare retainers in initial cost
- Impression kit is $95
- Financing requires a down payment, but everyone is approved
- $1,950 sticker price
- Charges $99 for retainers after treatment
- Impression kit is $49 (or free at a SmileShop location)
- Financing requires a down payment, but everyone is approved
At $1,950, SmileDirectClub’s sticker price is a bit more expensive than byte’s $1,895 price point. However, there’s also a difference when you consider impression kit and retainer costs. SmileDirectClub’s impression kit is $49, whereas byte’s is $95, and neither is included in the sticker price.
SmileDirectClub, however, gives you the option to skip the impression kit by visiting one of their SmileShops for a free teeth scan. byte does not have any physical locations, but they do include retainers in their upfront cost. SmileDirectClub, on the other hand, charges an additional $99 for retainers at the end of treatment. Even after this give-and-take, both companies’ total costs come out almost equal.
If you choose byte At-Night, you’ll end up paying $2,295 instead. SmileDirectClub’s nighttime aligners cost the same amount as its standard daytime treatment.
Payment Plan Options
As you think about cost, you should also keep in mind how you might finance your treatment. Again, SmileDirectClub and byte offer very similar options. Both offer 100% approval on financing, regardless of your credit score. Here are the details:
- SmileDirectClub offers a 24-month financing plan ($89/month) that requires a $250 down payment.
- byte’s 29-month plan ($83/month) requires a $349 down payment. For byte At-Night, it’s $99 a month + a $449 down payment.
bytepay also includes a 5-year “Smile Protection Plan,” which includes biannual retainer replacement and two free replacements for lost or stolen retainers.
Either company is a great option, especially if you aren’t confident in your credit score. With both services, you’ll pay a bit extra to finance your care when you factor in the interest paid over time by financing, so it’s worth it to pay upfront if you can make the finances work!
Both companies include free whitening to accompany your aligners, which is a nice touch that allows you to brighten your smile while you straighten your teeth. byte also includes their HyperByte device with your treatment cost. This is a huge benefit to you, as HyperByte is what makes byte’s 3-month treatment time possible, and it retails for $699 on its own.
All things considered, both companies offer strong value, especially when compared to Invisalign or braces, which will typically set you back $5,000 or more.
With a Nighttime-only treatment plan and hundreds of SmileShops across the U.S. that make it easy to get started, Convenience is one area where SmileDirectClub flourishes. byte’s services are convenient in their own right (especially considering their average treatment time) but this is where SmileDirectClub really goes above and beyond.
- No physical locations that offer teeth scans, so you’ll need to use an impression kit
- Recently announced a nighttime-only option that requires aligner use for only 10 hours per day
- Allows you to use aligners and whitening products simultaneously
- Has 300+ SmileShops for free teeth scans as an alternative to impression kits
- Offers a nighttime-only option that only requires aligner wear for 10 hours per day
- Also allows simultaneous aligner and whitening use
When getting started with SmileDirectClub or byte, you’ll need to send the company images of your teeth. You can purchase an impression kit from either company and use it to create molds of your top and bottom dental arches. However, impression kits can be difficult, especially considering the fact that most customers have never taken molds of their own teeth. And if you choose byte, this is the only option, so you’re stuck taking your own impression.
Go with SmileDirectClub, on the other hand, and you can visit any of their 300+ SmileShops for a free teeth scan. If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of taking impressions, or if you’re eager to start treatment, you can pop into a SmileShop where a dental assistant will scan your teeth for free. This will allow the company to get started on your care plan as quickly as possible.
Looking for a fast and easy startup process? SmileDirectClub has a clear advantage over byte.
Both byte and SmileDirectClub include teeth whitening products with your aligners, so you can brighten that smile while you straighten your teeth. With some other options like Smilelove, you can only whiten after you complete your aligner treatment, making byte and SmileDirectClub more convenient options.
This is a relatively new trend in the home aligner industry. Typically, you would wear your aligners for 22 hours per day. But for anyone who doesn’t think they can stick to that schedule, or would rather not remove and replace their aligners to eat and drink, SmileDirectClub and byte have each introduced a nighttime-only option.
These aligners are exactly the same as the ones you would receive for an all-day schedule, but you only wear each set for 10 hours per day over two weeks instead of one. Of course, this stretches out the overall timeline – extending SmileDirectClub’s to 10 months and byte’s to 6 months (on average). Nighttime aligners are a more convenient option for either company, although byte maintains its advantage in speed.
Currently, these are the only two companies offering a nighttime-only treatment option, but we wouldn’t be surprised if others started to jump on the bandwagon soon. For more information, check out our in-depth nighttime aligner comparison guide.
Both byte and SmileDirectClub provide clear aligners that fit the contours of your teeth and are much less visible than traditional braces, but there are some small differences in the materials they use that impact each product’s appearance.
- Uses a smooth, translucent, shiny plastic
- Reasonably stain resistant
- Uses a frosted, textured plastic
- Reasonably stain resistant
SmileDirectClub fashions their aligners from a “frosted” plastic, while byte uses a smooth, shiny one. What’s the difference? If you want to know our opinion, it’s that aligners made from frosted plastic are actually more discreet because they mimic the naturally-matte surface of your teeth. Shiny material can be reflective and actually more noticeable.
However, this debate is largely subjective and depends on your personal preference. Some customers, for example, appreciate byte’s shiny plastic because they think it makes their smiles gleam. You should consider which you prefer before making your final decision.
Both companies make aligners that are resistant to staining, but we would not recommend drinking colored beverages while wearing them.
Customer Service Comparison
You want a home aligner company that makes you feel valued and provides quick support when you need it most. When it comes to customer service, byte is the clear winner.
Both companies offer comparable support options, but in examining a large number of customer reviews, we found that byte stands out in terms of responsiveness and overall helpfulness of company representatives. Plus, they offer a unique lifetime warranty that covers your smile forever.
byte Customer Service
SmileDirectClub Customer Servcie
- Offers standard communication avenues and will respond on social media as well
- Provides each customer with a personal byte advisor to answer questions
- Receives consistently positive customer reviews
- The byte-For-Life guarantee ensures your smile forever
- Offers numerous communication avenues
- Received some negative reviews in the past, but seems to be turning it around
- Will work to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied, plus offers a full refund within 30 days of starting treatment
Both companies are available during standard business hours on a variety of support platforms – phone, webchat, and email. byte is very active on social media and will respond to questions and concerns there as well.
Responsiveness & Helpfulness
Based on many reviews we found, customers generally feel that byte offers more responsive and thoughtful support than SmileDirectClub.
In fact, SmileDirectClub’s customer support has received mixed reviews over the years. Many SmileDirectClub customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of support they received or reported frustrating delays in aligner shipments. The volume of negative reviews and Better Business Bureau complaints accelerated around 2017 as SmileDirectClub attempted to grow its business extremely rapidly, creating inconsistencies in its customer support.
Over the past year or so, SmileDirectClub seems to be making an effort to improve its service quality and customer support issues. These efforts appear to be paying off, but byte still comes out on top. By all accounts, they’re extremely responsive on all channels.
For example, if you reach out on social media, you can expect a response within 24 hours. Even better is the fact that each byte customer is assigned their own personal advisor, who answers questions and checks in via email throughout the process. It’s like having your own personal guide for the teeth straightening journey.
SmileDirectClub offers a 30-day full refund window from the start of treatment if you have an immediate change of heart. Later on, if you find that you’re not making the progress you expected, they won’t offer a refund, but they will work with you to create new aligners and get your treatment back on track (provided you’ve followed their treatment protocol).
byte has similar policies but takes them to the next level. Their byte-for-life guarantee insures your smile forever. Imagine that your teeth shift five years after you complete treatment. byte will send you new aligners to shift them back. Ten years? New aligners. Twenty years? You guessed it – they’ll send you new aligners. You just can’t beat a lifetime warranty.
byte Company Background
SmileDirectClub Company Background
- Founded in 2018
- Quickly gained popularity due to their innovative technology and excellent customer service
- Currently one of the industry’s most promising new companies
- Founded in 2014
- Largest home aligner company in the industry.
- Has transformed over 750,000 smiles to date.
As we mentioned earlier, byte is the newest home aligner company to hit the market. Even so, they’ve had a quick rise to the top of our rankings because of their innovation and unmatched treatment times.
At first, we were unsure if byte could compete with an established industry giant like SmileDirectClub, which then had over 2,000 employees and had served over one hundred thousand customers (as of 2019, the numbers are even higher). But byte proved us wrong, jumping at an opportunity to become a formidable company themselves.
In many ways, SmileDirectClub appears to have grown too quickly, and the quality of their product and customer support has suffered as a result. This unfortunate decision led to many customer complaints and created an opening for byte to enter the arena promoting industry-best treatment times, unique technology, and exceptional customer support.
And customers quickly took notice. Since their introduction in 2018, byte has delivered on their claims for fast treatment times, quality products, and exemplary customer service. They continuously stay at the forefront of industry trends and technology, innovating new ways to increase their aligner effectiveness, convenience, and appearance. They’re the prodigy of the group, and they continue to show incredible promise. We’re excited to continue following byte to see where they go in the future.
For now, SmileDirectClub still holds the crown for convenience, and they’re working to make the startup process even more accessible by opening additional SmileShops across the country. But all things considered, byte is our overall top-ranked home aligner company and a fantastic all-around option for anyone seeking high-quality, fast, affordable treatment.
Which Home Teeth Aligner Should You Use?
As you can see, SmileDirectClub and byte have a lot in common, but their differences are where you want to focus when making a final decision. If you’re still not sure which clear aligner service to choose, let’s look at a couple scenarios that might help you figure out which is the better option for you.
Choose byte if You Are:
Looking to complete treatment ASAP, want to receive excellent customer support, and don’t mind working with a less-experienced company.
Choose SmileDirectClub if You Are:
More comfortable purchasing from the most established brand name, and aren’t worried about possible delays and subpar customer service.
We Recommend byte For Most Users
SmileDirectClub and byte both offer a convenient and affordable alternative to visiting your dental provider for Invisalign treatment. Still, we recommend byte because they offer a much faster treatment timeline and significantly better customer support.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I choose SmileDirectClub or byte?
Either one is a good choice, but byte is our favorite home aligner service. You just can’t beat their blazing-fast treatment times and exceptional customer service. SmileDirectClub has its own advantages, primarily their brand power and long track record of satisfied customers. Take a deep dive into either company by reading our full SmileDirectClub review and byte review.
How do I get started with SmileDirectClub or byte?
You can kick off your byte treatment by purchasing and completing an impression kit. This means using putty to make molds of your top and bottom dental arches. Starting with SmileDirectClub is easier. They have an impression kit, but they also have 300+ SmileShop locations where you can get a free, in-person teeth scan for free.
What is the fastest home aligner company?
byte. Their average treatment takes just 3 months, while most other home aligner companies take around 6. Even byte At-Night takes 4-6 months, right around the industry average.
What are customers saying about byte and SmileDirectClub?
byte customers rave about everything from customer service to their results. Most SmileDirectClub customers are satisfied with their experience, although some report frustration with slow communication and customer support.
What is the most effective home aligner company?
That honor goes to Candid. They’re the one of only companies that works solely with orthodontists to design and oversee treatments. Plus, they give you constant access to your assigned orthodontist through their Remote Monitoring service. Check out our complete Candid review and learn about other effective treatments on our Top 3 Most Effective Home Aligners guide.
Should I choose nighttime or daytime treatment?
SmileDirectClub and byte both offer a nighttime-only treatment that allows you to wear your aligners for 10 hours per night rather than 22 hours per day. Nighttime treatment is great for frequent snackers or people who forget to wear aligners consistently. Daytime treatment is a better option for someone who’s looking to complete their treatment as quickly as possible.
What is the cheapest home aligner company?
AlignerCo. At just $1,145, their price beats every competitor by a few hundred dollars, and sometimes they run promotions that drop it even lower. And if you can’t pay that up front, you can jump on a financing plan, regardless of your credit score. Check out our complete AlignerCo review for more info, or find other great-value options in our guide to the most affordable home aligners.
Will home aligners work for me?
It depends on your condition. Since home aligners don’t require office visits and in-person oversight, they can’t treat severe conditions like most jaw misalignments. If you have a mild or moderate case of crowding or spacing, you’re probably a good fit, though.
How do SmileDirectClub and byte compare to Invisalign?
Both treatments use a series of clear aligners to shift your teeth. The major difference is that your dentist or orthodontist will administer Invisalign in-office and can incorporate supplement attachments (elastics, buttons, etc.).
As a result, Invisalign can treat just about any condition that braces can. Home aligners don’t require office visits, so they can’t employ attachments and they have a smaller range of treatable cases. Take a look at our SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign and byte vs. Invisalign guides for a deeper analysis.
How long does home aligner treatment take?
In most cases, 6 months. Your timeline could be shorter or longer, though, depending on your condition’s severity and how consistently you wear your aligners. And if you choose byte, your treatment will move a bit faster. They use “HyperByte” technology to achieve faster teeth shifts, completing most treatments in 3 months instead of 6.
What other companies should I consider?
Candid, AlignerCo, and SnapCorrect are all worth a look. Each one has its own advantages. AlignerCo offers the industry’s lowest prices, SmileDirectClub has the most experience and brand power, and SnapCorrect provides free whitening for life. Read through our guide to the top 5 home aligner companies for more on each option.
How much do home aligners cost?
They go for $1,200 – $2,500, depending on which company you choose. AlignerCo, for example, has cut out the bells and whistles to provide effective treatment at just $1,145. While Candid, who provides extensive Remote Monitoring, costs $2,400. Even the most expensive home aligners are still much cheaper than the $3,000 – $8,000 you’ll pay for Invisalign or braces.
Does insurance cover home aligners?
Sometimes, but not often. Many insurance providers don’t cover cosmetic treatments, which includes home aligners. If your plan includes orthodontic benefits, though, you might receive a partial reimbursement. The only way to know for sure is to contact your provider directly.
Are home aligners safe?
Yes! While administering treatment from home might seem daunting, the process is very safe. Home aligner companies use state-licensed dentists and orthodontists to create your treatment plan and design your aligners.
Even though you won’t meet with them in-person, each company offers robust customer support services if something doesn’t feel quite right. PlusDent’s regular virtual check-ins help to prevent any complications or issues throughout treatment.
Do home aligners hurt?
When you switch to a new aligner set every two weeks, you might experience some discomfort for the first day or two, but after that, you’ll hardly notice them.